News In Brief

The US

The number of refugees from fires in Florida was said to have peaked at about 125,000 over the weekend. Some residents were allowed to return to their homes in Brevard and Volusia counties in the northeast after higher humidity, some showers, and a cool breeze allowed firefighters to control the spreading of blazes in the hard-hit area. One thousand federal reinforcements arrived in adjacent Flagler County, boosting the size of its firefighting force to 1,500. Fires had reportedly burned some 200 homes and injured about 100 people. There were predictions that a storm from the Caribbean could bring more relief by midweek.

A poll on Clinton's China trip indicated 37 percent of Americans think it accomplished a "fair amount." Twenty-nine percent said not much was accomplished. In the Time Magazine/CNN survey, 63 percent said encouraging China to respect human rights was the main goal in dealing with Beijing. Establishing a strong trading relationship was seen as more important by 29 percent. Thirty-eight percent felt Clinton was tough enough on human rights; 36 percent said he should have been more assertive.

The White House is planning a series of events this week on issues ranging from health care to fighting drugs and crime to focus attention on the president's domestic agenda, officials said. Clinton began the campaign after returning from his trip to China by ordering the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to report within 90 days on a plan to create a national institute dedicated to food-safety research.

The US will oppose as premature any move to certify that Iraq has met its obligation to scrap its nuclear-weapons program, UN Ambassador Bill Richardson said. He predicted UN sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait would stay in place "for a long time" despite Iraqi efforts to create divisions among members of the Security Council.

Leaders of the antigovernment Montana Freemen group were convicted of various federal crimes, but their jury deadlocked on a central charge that they engaged in a massive assault on the US banking system. The jurors in Billings, Mont., were unable to reach verdicts on 11 of 40 counts. Judge John Coughenour ordered them to return tomorrow to resume work on the undecided issues. Although two members of the group entered guilty pleas at the beginning of the trial, most of the remaining 12 have boycotted the proceedings and refused to cooperate with their lawyers.

Saying they aren't sure Viagra is safe or necessary, state officials in New York and Wisconsin said they won't go along with a federal directive that their Medicaid programs cover the anti-impotence pill. The prescription pills costs about $10 each. The National Governors' Association has estimated the potential state and federal costs of adding Viagra to Medicaid coverage at $100 million a year.

US and Canadian negotiators agreed to limit the US catch of sockeye salmon bound for British Columbia's Fraser River this season to 24.9 percent of the fish available. An accord was also reached, the State Department said, to halt commercial salmon fishing for the 1998 season in disputed boundary waters along the Alaskan panhandle, where both nations claim jurisdiction over the Dixon Entrance. The US and Canada are still negotiating a broad new Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The World

Fulfilling a vow, more than a thousand members of Northern Ireland's Protestant Orange Order tested police in Porta-down by marching up to massive police barricades before stopping. The group tried to register a complaint at not being allowed to continue through a hostile Catholic neighborhood, but no police came forward to accept it. Some marchers said they'd camp in adjoining fields until they were allowed through. Last week, British authorities denied permission for the Orange Order to use the route for the first time since 1807.

As NATO planners met to consider a more forceful intervention in Kosovo if peaceful mediation failed, preparations were under way to send the first diplomatic "observer patrol" - including Russians, British and Americans - to the province. Its first mission was to begin today. Meanwhile, US special envoy Richard Holbrooke was trying to get bickering ethnic Albanian groups to present a united front in the hope they would resume peace talks with Serbia. Negotiations stopped in May after fighting escalated.

Conflicting reports from Tokyo left doubt about whether Japan's government was at work on a plan for $29 billion in permanent income-tax cuts. Prime Minister Hashimoto is under heavy US pressure to take bold steps that would trigger an economic rebound. But while some accounts had him publicly announcing support for a tax cut for the first time, others quoted him as saying: "I only said we would review the tax system. I can't guarantee a cut."

"Politics has no meaning when the people are starving," the secretary of Indonesia's largest Muslim group told more than 100,000 people praying in Jakarta for deliverance from their deepening economic troubles. It was believed to be the largest public gathering since the fall of President Suharto May 22. Organizers urged the government to do more to end the crisis, warning that people without food "do not recognize the law."

Hong Kong residents turned the final day of operations at venerable Kai Tak airport into an impromptu festival. Spectators lined the perimeter four-deep to watch the remaining flights at the 73-year-old facility. Others crowded nearby rooftops, which planes are forced to skim as they take off and land. The city's massive new $20 billion Chep Lap Kok airport opens today.

Though still convinced Cambodia's election race was neither free nor fair, two opposition parties backed down from their threats to withdraw. Their leaders said the decision had been "very difficult" but they did not want to disappoint supporters. Observers see the July 26 vote, called by Premier Hun Sen, as an attempt to gain legitimacy for his regime after his violent overthrow of co-leader Norodom Ranariddh last year.

Vote-counters in three Mexican state capitals were awaiting ballots in elections that were expected to indicate whether the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was regaining momentum for the 2000 presidential contest. PRI's candidate held a narrow lead in opinion polls in Chihuahua, in a bid to regain the governorship lost to the National Action Party in 1992. PRI's hopes in Zacatecas were dampened when one of its most popular candidates defected to another rival party. In Durango, the PRI candidate held a lead, but a leftist wasclosing the gap in late surveys.


"What we have here is a question of conflicting rights - the right to march versus

the right to live free of fear and intimidation ..."

- British Secretary for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam, appealing for a nonviolent end to the standoff in Portadown.

In its wisdom, a state court in Karlsrhe, Germany, has given the parents of a baby boy official permission to name him ... Speedy. But the justices thought it prudent to warn the mother and father that their child "may be teased" later in life - if, for example, he turns out to be slow on his feet or to grasp the punch lines of jokes. The couple sought the ruling after the local birth registry hesitated to approve the name. It is not known how quickly the court reached its decision.

There are fish stories and then there is what happened to Dan Droessler. The Plattville, Wis., policeman set out in a canoe, hoping the muskies were biting. They were. It was a hot day, so our man dangled a bare foot over the side, along with his line and bait. Guess which one the fish chose to bite? Right. When Droessler jerked his foot back into the canoe, the muskie came too. A clinic treated the angler's injury. Then the local warden confiscated the catch because it was undersized - and because a human foot isn't a legal lure.

The Day's List

Austria, US Finish High In National-Pride Poll

Austrians and Americans are apt to feel the world would be a better place if other nations were more like their own, according to a study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Based on interviews in 1995 with more than 28,000 people in 23 countries, the project produced two national-pride rankings - one on pride in specific achievements, the other on overall national pride. The top-10 countries in the general-pride category:

1. Austria

2. US

3. Bulgaria

4. Hungary

5. Canada

6. The Philippines

7. New Zealand

8. Japan

9. Ireland

10. Spain

- Reuters

Church Agrees to Sell Saipan Facility

Herald Broadcasting Syndicate, a subsidiary of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, has agreed to sell its shortwave facility on Saipan in the Mariana Islands to Radio Free Asia (RFA). The sale agreement for the station (KHBI) includes an undisclosed amount of cash as well as broadcasting time for inspirational programming produced by the church. RFA, which is funded by the US government, said it hopes to continue employing current KHBI staff.

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